Greek-Italian grid link repair work subduing power prices

The Greek-Italian grid interconnection’s temporary disruption for repair work is offering partial protection against wholesale electricity price increases in Greece.

The temporary-closure period for the grid interconnection, which has been sidelined towards both directions since August 19, has just been extended until September 3 following a request made by Italy’s power grid operator Terna, according to an announcement made by IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator.

Last Friday and Saturday, the wholesale electricity price was 300 euros per MWh higher in Italy compared to Greece.

Under normal conditions, price differences between neighboring markets prompts electricity export activity towards the lower-priced country.

Greek electricity exports were considerable in July, reaching 500 GWh, data provided by IPTO showed. Of this total, 351 GWh was exported to Italy, 253 GWh to Albania, 184 GWh to North Macedonia and 90 GWh to Bulgaria.

Electricity export figures will be subdued in August as a result of the disruption of the Greek-Italian grid interconnection. The link has been closed down for repairs on numerous occasions in recent years.



Power exports up over 800% in June, domestic demand lower

Greece’s electricity exports increased by over 800 percent in June, year-to-year, a development that has been attributed to delayed pricing in the country, which follows the course of the TTF index with a one-month delay, a latest monthly report released by power grid operator IPTO has shown.

The country’s electricity exports to Balkan markets through grid interconnections grew by 805.86 percent in June, reaching 351 GWh from just 39 GWh in the equivalent month a year earlier.

Trading companies took full advantage of the country’s pricing latency to offer highly competitive electricity prices in neighboring markets.

Despite the sharp increase in electricity exports, Greece remains a bigger importer. The country’s electricity imports in June totaled 509 GWh, roughly 25 percent lower than the amount recorded in the previous month.

Greece’s electricity imports exceeded exports by 158 GWh in June, well below the 490 GWh figure recorded in June, 2021.

This trend explains why domestic electricity production rose sharply, to 4,154 GWh, up 15.02 percent compared to a year earlier. This figure is almost at par with total domestic demand, at 4,313 GWh.

Electricity demand in Greece fell for a third month running in June, down 1.22 percent, year-to-year, a development attributed to higher prices.


Greece, Europe fear impact of heatwaves, Russian gas cuts

The country and Europe, as a whole, are bracing for even greater energy-system pressure ahead of anticipated summer heatwaves around the continent and the threat of intensified natural gas shortages.

The upcoming temporary closure of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, linking Russia with Germany, for annual maintenance work between July 11 and 21, according to Nord Stream AG, the gas pipeline operator, has European officials concerned the move could be a precursor for a full disruption. This would have a knock-on effect on natural gas prices all the way down to the Balkans.

Under the currently mild market conditions of pre-heatwave low demand, electricity prices in Greece are at 323.78 euros per MWh today. Officials dread the impact on prices of higher heatwave-induced electricity demand, combined with further Russian gas supply cuts to Europe.

At this stage, there is no way of knowing if Greece will be able to continue importing electricity from its northern neighbors if further Russian gas supply cuts prompt a wider shortage. In such a case, neighboring countries, like Greece, could look to fully cover domestic demand before thinking about exporting electricity.

Greek electricity producers are currently exporting considerable quantities to Bulgaria, Albania and Italy, driven by high prices fetched. Prices for electricity exports to Italy today are at 418 euros per MWh. However, electricity exporters may be forced to disrupt these sales in the event of an acute energy crisis in the Greek market.


DEPA Commercial plans extra LNG orders for March, April

DEPA Commercial is planning to place extra LNG orders for March and April as a result of higher consumption levels at natural gas-fired power stations, prompted by increased electricity exports, as well as a greater level of natural gas exports to Bulgaria.

The gas company intends to import three LNG shipments in April and is also considering an additional LNG order for this month, which would be shipped in along with a 40,000-cubic meter order placed by energy company Elpedison, scheduled to arrive in just a few days, on March 13.

Should DEPA Commercial go ahead with this latter March order, it would be the gas company’s second for the month. DEPA Commercial has already placed a 73,855-cubic meter LNG order that is due to arrive tomorrow.

Natural gas-fired power stations in Greece have been operating at full capacity in recent times to cover increased electricity exports to neighboring countries, where electricity prices have exceeded those of the Greek market.

Two days ago, electricity exports reached 27.5 GWh, while electricity imports were under 6 GWh.

Additional natural gas exports to Bulgaria in recent times have also prompted the need for more LNG in Greece.

To date, four LNG orders for March, totaling 261,447 cubic meters, have been placed by three companies, DEPA Commercial, Mytilineos and Elpedison.

In general, enterprises are moving cautiously with any extra LNG orders as a result of fluctuating natural gas prices in international markets. Companies placing gas orders at current price levels could be set back millions by any sudden price dip.


Greece registers Europe’s lowest wholesale electricity price today

Greece has registered Europe’s lowest day-ahead market price today, helped by greater RES contributions that have lowered the wholesale electricity price by 57.44 euros per MWh in a day, to 197.24 euros per MWh.

Elsewhere in Europe, wholesale price levels for today are upwards of 250 euros per MWh, while in some countries, the level greatly exceeds 300 euros per MWh, headed by France, where the wholesale price is 329.27 euros per MWh.

Renewable energy units represent 31.13 percent of the energy mix in Greece today, offering a total capacity of 61.5 GWh, just below the level of natural gas, the top contributor, with a 35.62 percent share of the energy mix, or 70.4 GWh.

The country’s hydropower generation is also significantly up today, capturing a 16.5 percent share of the energy mix, or 32.6 GWh, well over usual recent levels of less than 10 percent, as a result of heavy rainfall over the past few days that filled hydropower reservoirs.

The price gap between Greece and other European markets has prompted an increase in electricity exports today to a level of 31.2 GWh. Imports were restricted to 3.2 percent of the energy mix, or 6.3 GWh.

IPTO factors Balkans into adequacy report calculations

IPTO is taking into account current and potential grid capacities of neighboring Balkan markets for its preparation of an updated adequacy report, a study to serve as a base for various new plans, including the shaping of Greece’s requests for a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM) and Strategic Reserve, an updated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), and private-sector investment decisions for new natural gas-fired power stations.

IPTO is also factoring into its adequacy report calculations the heightened investment interest and activity in Greece’s RES sector, energy storage, now that this domain appears set for initiation, as well as the introduction of new elements to mechanisms and energy exchange markets, including the demand response system, remunerating major-scale electricity consumers when the operator asks them to shift their energy usage or stop consumption during high-demand peak hours, so as to balance the electricity system’s needs.

Electricity grids in the Balkans are being revamped, creating unprecedented electricity export opportunities for Greek exporters. The EU’s intention to impose a carbon border tax on electricity imports from non-EU countries adds to Greece’s export potential to the Balkans, as well as more new natural gas-fired power stations than the quantity included in the current NECP.

Given the developments, Greece now probably needs four new natural gas-fired power stations, including power utility PPC’s Ptolemaida V.

Private-sector firms are pushing ahead their plans for the development of such units, as was highlighted by a related joint announcement last Friday from GEK Terna and Motor Oil.


Lignite-fired power stations still operating despite elevated cost

Despite their increased operational cost, power utility PPC’s lignite-fired power stations remain essential, on an occasional basis, to ensure electricity supply security by countering various concerns that may arise, including voltage instability at the grid’s northern section.

Power grid operator IPTO needed to bring into the system one or two lignite-fired power stations throughout most of May, despite the high cost entailed, which would normally keep these units sidelined.

No lignite-fired power stations needed to be used for grid sufficiency on May 13 and 16, as is also the case for today.

The northern section of the country’s grid can be susceptible to voltage instability as a result of the international grid interconnections in the wider area, facilitating exports.

Until recently, northern Greece’s west Macedonia region was the country’s energy epicenter, courtesy of PPC’s extensive lignite portfolio in the area.

Regular use of higher-cost lignite-fired generation has increased price levels in the day-ahead and balancing markets, which, by extension, is increasing costs for suppliers.

PPC’s increased CO2 emissions, when the utility’s lignite-fired power stations are brought into operation, is also directly impacting industrial consumers, who are burdened by the resulting additional cost, passed on by the utility.

CO2 costs have risen sharply of late as a result of rallying carbon emission right costs.

Electricity market shares unchanged in March, imports up

The overall market share of independent electricity suppliers remained unchanged at 34.2 percent in March, without any surprise reshuffling between these suppliers, as power utility PPC held on firmly to its previous month’s 65.8 percent share, a latest monthly report issued by the Greek energy exchange has shown.

Like PPC, the market shares of some independent suppliers remained unchanged in March, compared to the previous month, the report showed.

Mytilineos registered a 7.97 percent market share in March, unchanged from February.

Heron’s market share fell marginally to 6.34 percent in March from 6.38 percent in February; Elpedison’s market share rose to 4.85 percent from 4.79 percent; NRG captured 4 percent, up from 3.89 percent; Watt and Volt fell to 2.58 percent from 2.73 percent; Volterra registered 1.93 percent, from 1.96 percent; Fysiko Aerio Attikis rose to 1.81 percent from 1.75 percent; Volton captured 1.41 percent, from 1.39 percent; Zenith reached 1.41 percent, from 1.36 percent; ELTA’s market share remained unchanged at 0.63 percent; and KEN fell slightly to 0.56 percent from 0.58 percent.

Electricity imports exceeded electricity exports, in terms of volume, the energy exchange report showed.

Also, the number of hours of net imports grew against the number of hours of net exports, the data for March showed.

Emission rights over €42/ton, costing PPC €1.4m per day

Carbon emission rights have risen sharply to record-high levels, reaching 42.28 euros per ton at the end of trading yesterday, an ascent of more than 80 percent compared to last October’s levels of approximately 23 euros per ton.

This relentless upward drive is costing power utility PPC extraordinary amounts. The corporation, maintaining lignite-fired power stations and related mines to ensure grid sufficiency, has spent a total of 152 million euros on carbon emission rights between November, when the target model was launched, and March, according to market data.

Market officials have forecast that carbon emission right prices will rise even further, possibly to levels beyond 100 euros per ton.

PPC’s daily outlay on carbon emission rights, estimated at 1.4 million euros, would increase further if these projections prove to be accurate.

The ascent of carbon emission rights has driven up the cost of lignite-based electricity to levels of approximately 130 euros per MWh.

Despite the participation of lignite units in the Greek market, their elevated operating cost has not been reflected in price levels. Paradoxically, even though the cost of electricity exports exceeds 120 euros per MWh, these exports are being invoiced at a little over 40 euros per MWh, benefitting traders, who are making the most of these low price levels.


Electricity demand falls 9.5% in January amid stricter lockdown

Stricter lockdown measures in January and their impact on business activity prompted a big reduction in electricity demand, down 9.5 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, when lockdown measures had yet to be imposed, according to power grid operator IPTO’s monthly report.

Most of the country’s retailers were forced to disrupt their business activities in January following a period of less stringent retail measures in the form of a click-away service, enabling customers to pre-order and pick up goods from shops by appointment or, this measure’s extension, click-in-shop, permitting customers to enter stores, see and even try products by appointment.

Electricity demand in the high-voltage category was down by 3.3 percent in January compared to the same month a year earlier, the IPTO data showed.

Interestingly, despite the plunge in electricity demand, electricity production increased by 12.9 percent in January, hydropower being the biggest mover with a 221 percent increase, following power utility PPC’s decision to use its hydropower units as a result of elevated water reserves.

The domestic production increase was attributed to a fall in electricity imports and rise in electricity exports, the greatest quantity going to Italy (43%), followed by North Macedonia (24%), Bulgaria (22%), Albania (9%) and Turkey (2%).

RES output was higher by 43 percent in January as a result of strong winds during the month, while, on the contrary, lignite-fired generation fell 43 percent. Natural gas-fueled power station output was also down, marginally, by 2 percent.

In terms of energy mix share, natural gas-fueled power stations held a 36 percent share, RES units captured 35 percent, hydropower’s contribution represented 16 percent, and lignite was responsible for 13 percent of total electricity generation in January, the IPTO figures showed.

PPC covered 66.6 percent of electricity demand in January, followed by Mytilineos (7.52%), Heron (5.89%), Elpedison (4.63%), NRG (3.49%) and Watt & Volt (2.74%).

Day-ahead market prices unusually low despite crisis conditions

Though the balancing market and its various problems since November’s launch of new target model markets may have been the focus of attention of late, irregularities have also troubled the day-ahead market, necessitating a closer look, officials have stressed.

This need was first pointed out by Alex Papalexopoulos, one of the architects of the country’s electricity system, who observed that the day-ahead market has shown signs of offers being systematically submitted at levels below actual cost. He said market dumping was taking place, referring to offers submitted by lignite-fired units.

These concerns have now also been raised by Dinos Benroubi, head of energy supplier Protergia’s electricity and gas divisions, as well as Antonis Kontoleon, the chief official at EVIKEN, Greece’s Association of Industrial Energy Consumers.

At a time of crisis, high electricity demand and calls on industrial producers to hold back on energy consumption, day-ahead market prices remain very low and full-scale electricity exports are taking place towards Italy, Kontoleon noted during a panel discussion at Athens Energy Dialogues, a conference held yesterday.

Protergia’s Benroubi took the issue a step further by noting that RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, must implement a monitoring mechanism for the day-ahead market, as, despite serving as a base for the target model’s functioning, it is displaying irregularities.

PPC gains 3% in retail market for November share of 66.3%

Power utility PPC, the retail electricity market leader, gained an entire three percentage points in November, capturing a 66.33 percent share, up from 63.2 percent a month earlier, according to a latest energy exchange report.

The rankings among the market’s independent suppliers remained unchanged but minor market share gains and losses were reported for the month.

Protergia, a member of the Mytilineos group, shed over half a percentage point, dropping from 8.6 percent in October to 7.99 percent in November, but remained at the forefront among the independent suppliers.

Second-placed Heron also retreated slightly, to 6.55 percent in November from 6.97 percent in October, as did Elpedison, ranked third, to 4.67 percent from 5.05 percent.

Next in the rankings, NRG’s market share remained virtually unchanged, ending November at 3.37 percent from 3.38 percent in October.

Watt+Volt followed with a 2.69 share of the retail electricity market, up marginally from 2.67 percent, Volterra was next with 2.37 percent from 2.55 percent, Fysiko Aerio (Attiki GSC) made a slight gain to reach 1.61 percent from 1.48 percent, Zenith upped its share to 1.26 percent from 1.19 percent, Volton improved to 1.13 percent from 1.04 percent, and KEN remained virtually unchanged, at 0.59 percent from 0.6 percent.

Electricity exports increased and imports decreased in November, compared to a month earlier, the energy exchange data showed.

PPC’s business plan for 2021 to 2023 projects a reduction in customers from 6.1 million, last September, to 4.7 million, for a market share of 54 percent.

GEK TERNA set to develop new 660-MW thermal unit

GEK TERNA is expected to finance its development of a gas-fueled power station with a 660-MW capacity in Komotini, northeastern Greece, through bond funds totaling 500 million euros, sources have informed.

In a company statement, GEK TERNA noted it intends to use 400 million of 500 million euros in bond funds to finance the group’s investment program, which includes gas-fueled power generation.

GEK TERNA is close to reaching an investment decision on this facility, the sources added. It would represent the third thermal unit involving the group.

GEK TERNA, which has the potential to play a key role in renewable energy through Terna Energy, is not overlooking thermal-unit developments.

Greece’s decarbonization strategy and the dominance of natural gas as the main fuel during the energy transition are two factors creating major opportunities for the GEK TERNA group.

Other vertically integrated electricity producers are also preparing new thermal facilities. The Mytilineos group is already constructing an 826-MW gas-fueled power station in the Boetia area, slightly northwest of Athens. This unit is expected to be launched next year.

A licensing procedure by Elpedison, also for an 826-MW facility, in Thessaloniki, is maturing.

In addition, the Copelouzos group is making progress on licensing for a 660-MW facility in Alexadroupoli, northeastern Greece. Company official Kostas Sifneos recently said this facility’s launch is scheduled for 2022.

The country’s big energy players are also continuing to eye Balkan markets for electricity exports, pundits informed.

Natural gas provides half of domestic generation in May, RES also on the rise

Natural gas’ share of overall electricity generation in Greece reached 50.1 percent in May, a 29 percent increase compared to the same month a year earlier, highlighting that the country’s energy transition is well and truly in motion.

Renewable energy output is also on the rise, increasing by 30 percent between May this year and last May.

On the contrary, lignite-fired electricity production plummeted 87 percent year on year.

Gas-fueled power station generation covered 38.5 percent of the grid’s needs in May, RES production captured a 29.62 percent share, electricity imports contributed 23.14 percent, hydropower output provided 6.07 percent and lignite units just 2.66 percent.

In the RES sector, wind energy led the way with a 49.82 percent share of this sector’s grid contribution in May, solar energy followed with 40 percent, small-scale hydropower facilities were next with 4.68 percent, biomass-biogas was represented with a 3.68 percent share, and CCHP (combined cooling, heat and power) with 1.81 percent.

Electricity imports and exports are an emerging sector with an increasingly important role in balancing national grids, a prospect that is attracting market players, data covering the year’s first five months has shown.

Electricity imports into Greece via the interconnection shared with Italy captured a 42.38 percent share of overall imports in May, a sharp rise from the previous month’s 32.35 percent share through this link.

Electricity imports from Bulgaria fell to 8.38 percent of the overall amount in May from 23.1 percent in April. Minor changes, between April and May, were registered for Greek imports from interconnections with Albania, North Macedonia and Turkey.

Greek electricity exports to Italy fell sharply to 7.56 percent of the overall total in May from 49.51 percent in April.

The country’s electricity exports to Turkey and Bulgaria rose significantly. Exports to Turkey represented 39.47 percent of Greek power exports in May, up from 17.38 percent a month earlier. Electricity exports to Bulgaria represented 25.69 percent of Greece’s total in May, much higher than April’s 6.17 percent through this interconnection.


Wholesale electricity prices rising, up to €47.30/MWh today

Wholesale electricity prices, determined by the System Marginal Price, are rebounding following a significant drop over the past few weeks.

The rise is being fueled by an anticipated increase in demand. A sidelined 600-MW line linking Greece with Bulgaria, depriving the system of electricity imports via this route, as well as a disruption in operations at an Elpedison power plant in Thessaloniki are two other contributing factors.

In addition, the Revythoussa LNG terminal just off Athens is not under any pressure, a factor subduing gas-fired unit bids and subsequently lowering the SMP.

Based on grid orders placed for today, the SMP has climbed to 47.30 euros per MWh, up from a level of around 30 euros per MWh five days earlier and 14.20 euros per MWh on May 1. Bidding by units has gradually risen since early May.

Demand, today, for domestic consumption and exports is estimated to reach 127 GWh, 40 percent of which is planned to be covered by natural gas-fired power stations, 30 percent by RES and hydropower plants, 23 percent by electricity imports, and 7 percent by lignite-fired power stations.

The SMP level will be determined by gas-fired power stations for 22 hours today, lignite-based generation will shape the price for one hour and imports for the remaining hour.

Energy groups pressing ahead with natural gas-fired unit plans

The country’s major energy groups are pushing ahead with investment plans for new gas-fired power stations despite the pandemic’s unprecedented impact on the economy and electricity market.

Mytilineos, a vertically integrated group at the forefront of electricity production and supply, began constructing an 826-MW energy center at Agios Nikolaos in the Viotia area, slightly northwest of Athens, last October and is continuing to press ahead with this project.

Investment plans by other players are also maturing. GEK-TERNA is moving ahead with licensing procedures for a 660-MW unit in Komotini, northeastern Greece. The Copelouzos group is paving the way for a 660-MW facility in Alexandroupoli, also in the northeast, while Elpedison is carrying on with procedures for an 826-MW power station in Thessaloniki.

Copelouzos could partner with an investor for the group’s Alexandroupoli project, sources informed.

All the aforementioned corporate groups are positioning themselves in a new energy landscape being shaped by the dominant role of natural gas in the transition towards renewable energy and cleaner energy sources.

This trend became very apparent during the lockdown in Greece. Natural gas and the RES sector covered 60 percent of domestic electricity demand in March.

Power utility PPC is pushing ahead with its decarbonization program without any backtracking, despite the crisis. This is creating a need for new and modern gas-fired power stations.

Furthermore, Greek energy groups are continuing to eye Balkan markets for prospective electricity exports. Electricity generation in the neighboring region has not been satisfactorily upgraded in recent decades, market officials pointed out.

Vertically integrated groups are also eagerly anticipating a new permanent CAT mechanism.

Independent energy players rushing to fill PPC lignite void

The country’s major independent energy groups are forging ahead with well anticipated plans to cover prospective electricity generating voids that will be created by power utility PPC’s withdrawal of lignite-fired units, now expected sooner following a government plan for a swifter withdrawal of all lignite-fired power stations, monopolized by the state-controlled power utility.

Speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last week, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared full decarbonization would be achieved in Greece by 2028.

The Prime Minister’s pledge for a lignite-free Greece in less than a decade has not taken domestic independent energy groups by surprise. As early as three to four years ago, they had foreseen an approaching end of the lignite era in Greece and around Europe.

So, too, had PPC’s leadership. But the corporation’s lignite monopoly, lignite dependence of local economies in lignite-rich areas, especially Greece’s west Macedonia region, as well as perpetual political interests attached to PPC over the years, have all played roles that have prevented the utility from turning to other energy sources such as natural gas and renewables.

Over the past year or so, major energy groups in Greece such as Mytilineos, GEK-TERNA, Copelouzos and Elpedison, as well as enterprises such as Elvalhalcor and Karatzis, have taken decisions to seek licenses for the development of new gas-fired power stations. The foundation stone of a Mytilineos unit in Boetia (Viotia), northwest of Athens, will be placed by the Greek Prime Minister at a ceremony scheduled for tomorrow.

A planned decarbonization process in neighboring Bulgaria, electricity needs in North Macedonia, and Greek power grid operator IPTO’s imminent upgrade of grid interconnections with Balkan neighbors, especially the aforementioned countries, are all creating further electricity export opportunities for Greek market players.



PPC forced to sell ‘excessive electricity amounts’ for NOME auctions

Electricity amounts made available by the power utility PPC for NOME auctions during the first few months of 2019 exceeded the utility’s output generated by lignite and hydropower sources, chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis has told company shareholders.

“In other words, PPC is obligated to provide to third parties electricity quantities that do not only stem from lignite and hydropower sources, but other fuel sources as well, such as natural gas, as well as renewables,” Panagiotakis contended.

Electricity amounts provided by PPC for NOME auction usage in 2018 represented 77 percent of the utility’s total lignite and hydropower production, according to the PPC boss.

This level of commitment is the cause of major losses for PPC, Panagiotakis told shareholders.

NOME auctions were introduced about three years ago as a means of offering independent players access to PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower sources.

Recipients purchase electricity at low prices and then sell abroad, the PPC chief said, adding that electricity demand in Greece fell by 1.2 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, to 57,122 GWh.

However, overall electricity demand, including exports, rose by 2.2 percent as a result of a 75.2 percent increase in exports – primarily NOME-acquired amounts by third parties –  through northern grid interconnections, Panagiotakis added.

NOME auctions have not helped open up the market to greater competition as PPC’s market share contraction in the retail electricity market dropped to just 81.9 percent in 2018 from 86.7 percent in 2017, the PPC chief noted.


Greek power producers also eyeing Balkan export potential

The country’s power producers are focusing on the market prospects of  neighboring countries along with a heightened interest in Greece’s electricity market as a result of the upcoming elections, seen bringing the main opposition New Democracy party into power for more decisive reform action at power utility PPC, and intensified market competition.

Investments plans by PPC, currently developing its Ptolemaida V power station, as well as by private-sector enterprises, which have announced plans for five new state-of-the-art units, are expected to create an overabundance of electricity, even of all these plans are not executed. This is one of three main factors turning the attention of power producers to neighboring markets.

Also, it has become clear that Balkan markets lack flexibility in electricity generation as they primarily depend on coal, while gas networks that could support flexible gas-fueled power stations in the region are insufficient.

A third factor contributing to the heightened the interest of local producers for energy-related business in the wider region is Greek power grid operator IPTO’s ongoing upgrade of Greece’s grid interconnections with neighboring countries, especially Bulgaria and North Macedonia, which promises to create greater export potential.

Besides the independent producers, PPC is also looking to capitalize on this export potential.

Domestic electricity consumption down again in 2018

Domestic electricity consumption has continued its slide of recent years, falling by 1.2 percent in 2018, to 57,122 GWh from 57,845 GWh in 2017, a reflection of the ongoing struggles of households and businesses, market data released by the main power utility PPC has shown.

Overall electricity demand in Greece rose by 2.2 percent in 2018 as a result of a 75.2 percent increase in electricity exports to other European markets through northern interconnections.

The increased electricity exports were primarily attributed to exports of some of the electricity amounts acquired at local NOME auctions. This gateway to other markets has been significantly narrowed as a result of restrictions imposed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy.

Electricity imports in 2018 also rose, increasing by 23.6 percent, or 2,143 GWh. PPC imported 506 GWh of this amount.

As for retail electricity market shares, PPC’s share fell from 86.7 percent in 2017 to 81.9 percent in 2018. Independent suppliers made their greatest gains in the low-voltage category.

Export limit among factors seen subduing NOME prices today

Export limits imposed by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, on electricity amounts acquired by bidders at NOME auctions are expected to play a fundamental role in subduing prices at today’s first session for the year, despite the relatively modest electricity amount of 350 MWh/h offered and the currently elevated System Marginal Price (SMP), or wholesale, levels.

The new NOME electricity export limits, being implemented for the first time today, will severely limit the ability of players to transmit amounts to regional markets.

Lower price levels in neighboring markets, where SMP levels are currently lower than they are in Greece and are expected to drop further as a result of greater hydropower output generated by heavy rainfall this winter, are also expected to play a role in restricting Greek electricity export activity.

A third factor seen keeping NOME prices low today is the main power utility PPC’s seemingly failed attempt to sell its lignite-fired power stations at Megalopoli and Meliti, a bailout-required disinvestment. If speculation of the sale’s failure is made official, electricity amounts at the ensuing NOME auctions will not be reduced.

Today’s NOME price level stands no chance of reaching the lofty level of 54.74 euros per MWh registered at the previous auction as a result of the three aforementioned factors, pundits have asserted. Instead, they forecast a forty-something price level.

NOME auction rescheduled for February 8 amid pending issues

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, has rescheduled the country’s first NOME auction for the year from January 23 to February 8, a key reason being to enable additional time for the introduction of a measure intended to restrict exports of electricity amounts acquired at the auctions.

The Energy Exchange, participating in a public consultation procedure concerning the matter, needs to submit supplementary observations on the export-limiting measure before the plan is implemented on time for the auction in February. A short follow-up public consultation procedure will need to be wedged into the process.

The anticipated outcome of the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required disinvestment of lignite units is another reason for the auction’s rescheduling. Just days remain before the sale’s January 23 deadline for binding bids expires, unless an extension is granted, which could be necessary as a result of various unresolved matters.

The disinvestment’s outcome will determine whether an additional 520 MWh/h electricity amount is added, as a penalty, to the year’s NOME auction total of 1,444 MWh/h because of PPC’s failure to reach a retail electricity market share contraction target of 62.24 percent set for the end of 2018. The end-of-2019 target imposed on PPC is 49.24 percent.

RAE will need to decide, by the end of this month, on how penalty electricity amounts will be distributed to the year’s NOME auctions.

Small offering for next NOME auction prompts reaction

Electricity market players, especially vertically integrated companies, have raised objections to a subdued electricity amount of 240 MWh/h decided on by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, for the year’s first NOME auction, scheduled for January 23, as well as the failure, so far, by authorities to decide on export restrictions concerning electricity amounts acquired at these auctions.

The complaints were expressed in a letter forwarded by ESAI/HAIPP (Hellenic Association of Independent Power Producers) to RAE, energypress has been informed.

RAE plans to reserve bigger electricity amounts for later in the year, including 604 MWh/h for the year’s final NOME auction, expected in October. The authority is obviously holding back as it awaits the outcome of the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of lignite units, now in progress.

Independent electricity suppliers fear the small quantity decided on for the year’s opening session, combined with Greece’s elevated System Marginal Price (SMP) and higher wholesale electricity prices in Europe, will intensify bidding competition and prompt further NOME price hikes on January 23.

NOME auctions were introduced in Greece over two years ago to offer independent players access to PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower sources for more competitive pricing policies.

Though the European Commission has already provided permission for the implementation of NOME-electricity export restrictions, RAE has yet to reach a decision, despite launching a public consultation procedure on the matter prior to the previous session late last year.

RAE has divided 1,444 MWh/h into four NOME auctions for 2019. The amount represents 22 percent of the country’s total electricity consumption, as stipulated in the bailout agreement, plus 171 MWh/h, the remainder of a penalty addition prompted by PPC’s failure to reach a market share contraction target set for the first half of 2018.

If all goes well with PPC’s sale of the Megolopoli and Meliti power stations included in its bailout-required investment of lignite assets, then the NOME amount will be reduced to represent 13 percent of Greece’s total electricity consumption.

PPC was well over a 62.24 percent market share contraction target set for the end of 2018 and needs to reduce its share to 49.24 percent by the end of this year.


NOME electricity export limit to be introduced for next auction

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, is believed to be close to finalizing the details of an electricity export restriction on NOME-acquired amounts following the eventual approval by the European Commission.

The measure’s finalized shape is expected within the next few days, which should provide ample time for its implementation ahead of the next NOME auction, expected early in 2019.

The European Commission, in a letter forwarded to RAE late November, had left open the possibility of electricity export-restricting measures, but, at the same time, reminded of EU law forbidding the obstruction of trade.

Brussels ended up permitting the export restriction as part of a wider effort aiming to further intensify competition in Greece’s retail electricity market.

Driven by considerably higher wholesale electricity prices promised in other EU markets, Greek NOME auction participants, especially traders, have been exporting amounts acquired at these local sessions.

NOME auctions were introduced in Greece over two years ago to offer independent players access to the main power utility PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower sources for more competitive pricing policies.

Considerably higher NOME prices generated at various auctions prompted RAE to investigate the matter.

A NOME electricity export limit plan presented by RAE in October proposed restrictions for all firms with respective levels determined by the amount of consumption represented in the retail market. Any electricity amounts found to exceed these export limits would be priced at the System Marginal Price (SMP), or wholesale price, not relatively lower prices secured at auctions, according to the RAE proposal.



Brussels appears prepared to accept NOME exports limit plan

The European Commission appears to be showing an increasing understanding for the need by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, to impose export limits on electricity amounts acquired at NOME auctions, energypress sources have informed.

RAE officials, now preparing the authority’s NOME terms revision plan to be submitted to Brussels for authorization, are in regular contact with European Commission officials for guidance.

RAE is aiming for its revised terms to be implemented in time for Greece’s next NOME auction, which may take place during the first quarter of 2019. A date has yet to be set.

The authority wants to limit NOME electricity exports being carried out by traders and suppliers in Greece, exploiting considerably higher wholesale electricity prices in other EU regions.

NOME auctions were introduced in Greece over two years ago to offer independent energy firms access to PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower sources. The NOME-related exports are depriving local players of favorably priced electricity amounts for Greece’s retail electricity market.

Brussels, citing the EU’s free trade principles, expressed some hesitation over the export limit plan in a letter forwarded to RAE late last month, but also indicated it would be open to measures.

Brussels opposes Greek export limit plan for NOME electricity

The European Commission has expressed its opposition to a plan by RAE, Regulatory Authority for Energy, aiming to limit exports of electricity amounts acquired at Greece’s NOME auctions – following an energy exchange recommendation in a public consultation procedure – but notes certain exceptions would be permitted, in a letter forwarded to the authority.

Brussels reminds RAE restricting free trade is forbidden by the EU, while adding European courts have made clear that, besides certain quantitative restrictions, trade restrictions implemented as official state policy are not permitted.

Greek authorities have been asked to prove if the NOME export limits being contemplated could qualify as exceptions.

RAE, in related talks expected soon with European Commission authorities, intends to highlight the need for NOME export limits and will be hoping for an agreement ahead of the first auction in 2019.

The Brussels letter’s first part focuses on EU concerns over China’s presence in the Greek energy market.



Traders appeal to Brussels over NOME export limit proposal

Energy firms primarily active in transboundary electricity trade are seeking European Commission support in an effort to prevent the adoption, in Greece, of restrictions – including indirect measures – on exports of electricity amounts secured at local NOME auctions.

Traders were prompted into action by a Greek Energy Exchange proposal forwarded to a public consultation procedure staged by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, calling for NOME-related electricity exports to be sold at just under the System Marginal Price (SMP), or wholesale price, rather than lower prices secured at the auctions.

NOME auctions were introduced about two years ago to offer independent energy firms access to the main power utility PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydrocarbon sources as a means of breaking the utility’s retail electricity market dominance.

In their appeal, export-minded traders have cited the EU’s free-trade principle as their main argument. It is not yet clear how the European Commission could respond.




Reserved hopes of NOME price containment this Wednesday

New NOME auction-related export disincentives are expected to subdue – at the next session, this Wednesday – the aggressive approaches of certain auction participants buying considerable electricity amounts with the intention to export to higher-price markets.

However, expectations of the measure’s effectiveness remain reserved as other factors could still drive up prices and once again deprive independent electricity suppliers of lower-cost wholesale electricity as a tool to compete against the main power utility PPC in the retail market.

Wholesale electricity prices are currently flying high in European markets but Greece’s SMP, relatively lower at levels of around 70 euros per MWh, has only partially reflected this trend.

Market fears fueled by rising CO2 emission right prices could prompt aggressive bidding among auction participants this Wednesday.

Such factors have raised fears of a repeat, if not deterioration, of results at Greece’s previous auction, which generated a record price level of 48.8 euros per MWh, approximately 3.5 euros over the previous record set at the end of 2017.

Costlier wholesale price mulled for exported NOME electricity

NOME auction participants will not face any quantitative or post-purchase usage restrictions concerning electricity amounts bought at auctions but will need to cover a higher System Marginal Price (SMP), the official electricity wholesale price, for amounts found to have been exported by follow-up checks, according to a proposal expected to soon be forwarded by LAGIE, the Electricity Market Operator.

It is believed that the European Commission, which has objected to the imposition of export limits on NOME amounts, would endorse such a plan.

Certain electricity suppliers, especially traders possessing supply licenses but no – or virtually no – customer bases, have been buying considerable amounts of lower-priced electricity at NOME auctions for export, a practice offering wide profit margins given the higher electricity prices secured abroad.

Such export-minded participants are pushing NOME auction prices higher for independent suppliers seeking lower-cost wholesale electricity prices at the auctions to compete against the still-dominant power utility PPC in the Greek market.

PPC faces retail electricity market share contraction targets of 62.24 percent by the end of 2018 and 49.24 percent by the end of 2019. The power utility’s market share, which has contracted at a slower-than-required rate, remains at a level of around 80 percent. The issue is expected to be tabled for discussion by lender technocrats, now back in Athens.

RAE to impose NOME auction restrictions to counter abuse

RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, appears determined to implement measures aimed at limiting NOME auction abuse by market players and accelerating the main power utility PPC’s retail electricity market share contraction for greater market competition.

In its monitoring of NOME auctions and ensuing sales, by participants, of electricity amounts to secondary markets over the past few months, RAE has noticed an accumulation of futures products disproportionate to customer base sizes and growth rates of certain suppliers and traders.

Subsequently, four companies were summoned by RAE to hearings. Three of these testified yesterday.

According to sources, the representatives of all three companies – traders and electricity suppliers holding small market shares – contended that they have not breached any market rules, while also noting NOME auctions have been staged without restrictions, as was requested by the country’s lenders.

These companies will need to follow up arguments offered at their hearings with related documents before RAE decides whether to hand out charges or not.

RAE has not been able to determine the exact amounts of electricity exported from Greece to other European markets, where wholesale prices are relatively higher, but has resorted to various tools monitoring the market and players, analysts noted.

The authority is preparing to introduce specific NOME auction regulations, including restrictions, sources informed.

During the bailout era, which has just ended, lenders, citing free market rules, did not want any restrictions imposed on Greece’s NOME auctions. However, the country’s lenders have, along the way, given RAE some leeway to take corrective action and counter ongoing abusive practices by NOME participants.

NOME auctions were introduced in Greece about two years ago to offer third parties access to PPC’s lower-cost lignite and hydropower sources.